Oakland Athletics – MLB Trade Rumors 2020-02-20T02:45:19Z https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/feed/atom WordPress Steve Adams <![CDATA[Camp Battles: Athletics’ Second Base Job]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=190828 2020-02-19T02:41:24Z 2020-02-19T02:41:24Z The Athletics boast one of baseball’s best infield trios: third baseman Matt Chapman, shortstop Marcus Semien and first baseman Matt Olson are among the sport’s very best as their respective positions. It’s easy to argue that Oakland is 75 percent of the way to the best infield in the game — but it’s that remaining 25 percent that will be one of the key areas of focus for the organization this spring.

Oakland’s second base position is wide open, although that doesn’t mean that the club is short on candidates. Franklin Barreto, Jorge Mateo, Tony Kemp, Sheldon Neuse and Rule 5 pick Vimael Machin are among the candidates to join that all-world infield mix. If the Oakland organization isn’t content with the options already in house, they could look to a free-agent market that still includes veterans Brian Dozier, Scooter Gennett and Tim Beckham. The merits of further muddying an already crowded mix can be debated, but the A’s at least looked into Jason Kipnis before he signed with the Cubs, so perhaps a lefty bat like Gennett would be of some interest.

Complicating the matter for Oakland decision-makers is that four of the five incumbent possibilities are unable to be sent to the minors; each of Barreto, Mateo and Kemp is out of minor league options. Machin would have to be put on waivers and offered back to the Cubs upon clearing if he doesn’t win a spot on the roster. It’s a competition that’ll surely force the Athletics into some tough decisions, but that’s common this time of year.

Let’s take a look at the options…

  • Barreto: Brett Lawrie is out of baseball. Sean Nolin hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since 2015. Kendall Graveman? He’ll spent the 2020 season with the division-rival Mariners after being non-tendered two years ago following Tommy John surgery. Some might question what those names have to do with Barreto, but A’s fans know: he’s the last vestige of the franchise-altering trade that sent Josh Donaldson to Toronto in November 2014. Still not even 24 years old, Barreto ranked among the game’s top 100 prospects in four straight offseasons but has season his prospect/rookie status expire without establishing himself in the big leagues. He curbed some strikeout issues in Triple-A last year and posted a strong .295/.374/.552 slash in Triple-A. Manager Bob Melvin tells MLB.com’s Martin Gallegos that 2020 camp represents Barreto’s “best shot” to date with the organization. “[I]f he has the type of Spring that he has had before, it’s going to be tough not to have him be part of that dynamic, whether it’s a left-right dynamic or an everyday role,” says Melvin. Assistant hitting coach Eric Martins calls the job “absolutely [Mateo’s] to lose.”
  • Mateo: Another high-profile prospect at the time of acquisition (alongside Dustin Fowler and James Kaprielian in the trade that sent Sonny Gray to the Yankees), Mateo has yet to play in the Majors. He brings elite speed — 80-grade, on some reports — that can’t be matched by the rest of the participants in this competition. Mateo hit .289/.330/.504 in 566 Triple-A plate appearances last year — a slash that incredibly, by measure of wRC+ (96), ranked just below league average in the offensively supercharged Triple-A environment. He’s a shortstop by trade and has also played center field, so he could make the club as a super-utility option even if he doesn’t win the second base job.
  • Kemp: The newest entrant into the Oakland second base derby, Kemp was acquired just last month in a trade that sent minor league infielder Alfonso Rivas to the Cubs. The 28-year-old Kemp has played in 283 games in the big leagues, mostly with the Astros, and put together a .233/.314/.367 slash through 749 plate appearances. His left-handed bat could theoretically pair well with the right-handed bats of Barreto, Kemp or Neuse, although he hasn’t displayed particularly significant platoon splits. He’s a .312/.373/.425 hitter in parts of four Triple-A seasons and brings some defensive versatility to the mix as well; Kemp has logged 1152 Major League innings in the outfield — including 321 frames in center.
  • Neuse: The fact that Neuse has all three minor league option years remaining will surely work against him, but he’ll have the chance to outplay his out-of-options brethren in Oakland camp. Like everyone else on this list, the 25-year-old Neuse was originally part of another organization; he joined the A’s along with Jesus Luzardo and Blake Treinen in the trade that sent Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle to the Nationals. The 2019 season was a big one for Neuse, who ripped through Triple-A pitching with a .317/.389/.550 slash en route to making his Major League debut. He’s still only totaled 61 plate appearances in the bigs, but the former second-round pick will surely add to that total in some capacity in 2020.
  • Machin: The 26-year-old Machin is — pardon the pun — an OBP machine who has walked nearly as often in his minor league career as he’s struck out (215 free passes to 258 punchouts). He’s fresh off a .295/.390/.412 slash between Double-A and Triple-A in 2019, and he’s hit at a .313/.345/.437 clip in winter ball this season. Machin has at least 650 plate appearances at all four infield positions but has spent the bulk of his minor league time at second base. His versatility, OBP skills and Rule 5 status could give him an opportunity to break camp as a utility option, and a strong early showing could net him larger looks as the season wears on.

Former Blue Jays and White Sox infielder Ryan Goins stands out as a notable non-roster option who’s in camp, although it’d certainly qualify as an upset if he beat out five 40-man players — including two out-of-options former top prospects who’ve yet to see an extended audition in the big leagues (Barreto, Mateo).

Regardless of the outcome, there’s some potential for a notable 40-man move or two here late in camp. It seems likeliest that the A’s will play things safe and keep both Barreto and Mateo on the roster, but they’ll be two of the more intriguing names to monitor on this year’s list of out-of-options players throughout Spring Training.

Anthony Franco <![CDATA[A’s Acquire Burch Smith]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=190558 2020-02-15T17:49:02Z 2020-02-15T17:32:32Z The A’s have acquired reliever Burch Smith from the Giants for cash considerations, the club announced (h/t to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle). Smith was designated for assignment by San Francisco earlier this week. As the A’s noted, this is the first swap involving an MLB player between the Bay Area rivals since 1990.

Smith, 29, hasn’t found much success at the MLB level. In 99.1 innings with the Royals, Brewers and Giants over the past two seasons, Smith has just a 6.61 ERA with an underwhelming combination of strikeouts (20.9%) and walks (11.6%). He has continued to find 40-man roster spots around the league, though, suggesting teams are holding out hope for better results.

To create roster space for Smith, Daniel Mengden was placed on the 60-day injured list, tweets Martín Gallegos of MLB.com. Mengden underwent elbow surgery earlier this week.

Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Latest On A's Catching Depth]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=190369 2020-02-14T02:28:17Z 2020-02-14T02:28:17Z
  • The Athletics brought a catcher to their Major League spring camp, though it was non-roster invite and former Oakland Double-A backstop Collin Theroux rather than one of the well-known veterans the club reportedly has under consideration.  “It probably looks like we go forward with the group we have right now,” manager Bob Melvin told the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser and other reporters, with Theroux joining Austin Allen, Jonah Heim, Carlos Perez, Ronnie Freeman, and presumptive starter Sean Murphy at Spring Training.  There isn’t much collective MLB experience in this group, which is why the A’s have looked into the likes of Russell Martin as a seasoned backup (and mentor) to Murphy, who the A’s see as their catcher of the future.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Ben Zobrist Reportedly Not Planning To Play In 2020]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=190185 2020-02-12T18:16:19Z 2020-02-12T18:16:19Z Veteran utilityman Ben Zobrist is not planning to play in the current season, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network (via Twitter). While nothing seems to have been set in stone, it now appears unlikely that the 38-year-old will resume his career.

    This is hardly a surprising outcome given the course of the 2019 season. Zobrist took time away from the Cubs to deal with family matters, sacrificing some of his salary in the final season of his $64MM deal. When he was available, Zobrist generally struggled.

    The switch-hitting, do-it-all performer didn’t lose his impeccable plate discipline last year, as he drew 23 walks against 24 strikeouts in 176 plate appearances. But his power all but disappeared, as he managed only six extra-base hits and a .313 slugging percentage to go with his .358 OBP.

    If indeed this is the end of the line, Zobrist will finish with a .266/.357/.426 lifetime triple-slash — which works out to a 116 wRC+. He added big value with his multi-positional defensive acumen and quality baserunning, leaving him with a tally of 44.4 fWAR and 45.2 rWAR over his 14 campaigns in the majors.

    Along the way, Zobrist played a pivotal role in redefining the way teams build their rosters. He was an everyday player in Tampa Bay, appearing in 153 games annually between 2009 and 2014 with the Rays, but he moved all over the field. That helped the creative organization find more ways to utilize platoons and achieve small advantages, a strategy that has since expanded, dovetailed with other trends, and turned into a rather normal occurrence around the game.

    Of course, few if any super-utility types have anything approaching Zobrist’s ability with the bat and glove. In his best season, 2009, Zobrist ran up a monster 152 wRC+ and 8.7 fWAR. That sort of ability made his early-career extension one of the game’s most valuable contracts for a stretch. He was a hotly pursued trade commodity in advance of his final of team control, when he moved to the Athletics and then on to the Royals for the K.C. World Series run. And Zobrist drew interest from many clubs in the ensuing winter, ultimately landing with the Cubs on a four-year deal — a remarkable pact given that he was heading into his age-35 season.

    It seems the Chicago stint will prove a finishing act for Zobrist. He struggled in 2017 and 2019, but was an All-Star for the third time in 2016. Zobrist not only helped the Cubbies reach the World Series, but took home the MVP award for his big role in helping the club end the curse. He was again a strong performer in 2018, easily justifying the club’s overall investment.

    If this is it for Zobrist, then MLBTR offers a tip of the cap for an excellent career.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Athletics To Sign Michael Ynoa]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=190167 2020-02-12T16:20:47Z 2020-02-12T16:20:47Z The Athletics have agreed to a deal with righty Michael Ynoa, according to the Roster Roundup Twitter page. It’ll be a minor-league deal for the 28-year-old.

    This represents a reunion of sorts for Ynoa, who started his pro career in the Oakland org and ended up being shipped to the White Sox in the Jeff Samardzija swap. Ynoa missed all of 2018 due to injury and was dropped early in 2019 by the Royals after 17 Triple-A appearances.

    Ynoa has long struggled to rein in the walks — an issue that arose again last year. Through 59 MLB innings, he carries a 4.42 ERA with 8.1 K/9 and 5.9 BB/9. He has thrown 16 2/3 intriguing innings in Dominican winter all action of late, racking up 28 strikeouts while allowing five earned runs on just four hits … along with a dozen free passes.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Athletics Considering Free-Agent Catchers]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=190094 2020-02-12T01:13:24Z 2020-02-12T01:13:24Z The Athletics used a slew of catchers in 2019, but almost all of them are now out of the organization. Josh Phegley, Chris Herrmann, Nick Hundley, Beau Taylor and Dustin Garneau are gone. Sean Murphy’s the lone member of last season’s group still remaining, and the promising 25-year-old figures to get the most playing time among Athletics catchers in the upcoming campaign. There’s no battle-tested backup on the roster, but the A’s are monitoring the free-agent market for backstops, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

    There’s at least some chance that Russell Martin, a longtime Dodger, will remain in California. Oakland “checked in with” him earlier in the offseason, Slusser writes. Should the team wind up signing Martin, the 36-year-old would make for quite a mentor for Murphy.

    Martin, who debuted in 2006, has been one of the game’s most successful catchers in recent memory on the field and a well-regarded locker room presence off it. While Martin’s production has tailed off in the past couple seasons, he still turned in 1.2 fWAR with a .220/.337/.330 line in 249 plate appearances last year. Behind the plate, Martin threw out just 18 percent of would-be base stealers, though Baseball Prospectus did assign him above-average marks for his overall work as a defender.

    Martin’s likely the most appealing catcher left in a free-agent market that has shrunk to almost nothing at his position. Fellow ex-star Jonathan Lucroy, a former Athletic, is also out there. He has engaged in “conversations with a few teams,” per Slusser, though it’s unclear if the A’s are among them.

    Of course, Oakland could just decide to stick with in-house choices at catcher, where it has two options besides Murphy on its 40-man roster. The club acquired Austin Allen, who’s penciled in as its backup, from the Padres in December. The Athletics also have Jonah Heim, a 24-year-old who raked in Triple-A ball in 2019. Additionally, they picked up veteran Carlos Perez earlier this winter, though he’s not on their 40-man.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Athletics Showing Interest In Jason Kipnis]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=190023 2020-02-11T16:29:14Z 2020-02-11T16:29:14Z The Athletics have shown some level of interest in veteran infielder Jason Kipnis, per Martin Gallegos of MLB.com (via Twitter). It’s not yet clear whether a deal is likely and if so whether it’d include a 40-man roster spot.

    It has been a quiet offseason thus far for Kipnis, who hit the open market for the first time when the Indians declined a club option. He has drawn interest from the Cubs, but it has otherwise been crickets.

    The 32-year-old Kipnis is accustomed to regular playing time, having accrued nearly five thousand plate appearances over a nine-year run with the Cleveland organization. But clear-cut opportunities at his customary second base have been hard to come by this winter, with a bevy of other candidates also available.

    It has been some time since Kipnis was a high-grade offensive threat. He’s a .236/.305/.403 hitter over the past three seasons. But Kipnis has always been much more effective against right-handed than left-handed pitching; unsurprisingly, Gallegos suggests the A’s would consider him in a platoon capacity.

    UZR likes him in the field, though DRS and Statcast’s Outs Above Average do not. Kipnis has logged brief time in center field, so perhaps a new team could explore moving him around.

    The Athletics already added a left-handed utility piece in Tony Kemp, though the team has committed little more than 40-man space to him at this point. It’s possible he and Kipnis could battle in camp for a role. Veteran lefty utilityman Ryan Goins is also on hand. Righty hitters Chad Pinder and Franklin Barreto factor in the potential mix at second base as well.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Daniel Mengden Undergoes Elbow Surgery]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=189995 2020-02-11T04:29:51Z 2020-02-11T04:29:51Z Athletics right-hander Daniel Mengden underwent arthroscopic surgery on his pitching elbow Monday, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Mengden will miss at least two months as a result, making it likely he’ll begin the season on the 60-day injured list, according to Slusser.

    The 26-year-old Mengden divided last season between the A’s and their Triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas, totaling 13 appearances for both teams. He started nine games for Oakland and pitched to a 4.83 ERA/4.69 FIP with ugly strikeout, walk and groundball rates over 59 2/3 innings. Mengden fanned 6.34 hitters per nine, walked 4.07 and induced grounders at a 36.3 percent clip. He was much better in those categories in the minors (8.58 K/9, 2.82 BB/9, 51.4 percent GB rate), but his run prevention was somewhat similar. Mengden wound up with a 4.22 ERA/4.55 FIP across 64 frames and 10 starts.

    While Mengden has mostly been a starter in the majors since he came on the scene in 2016, he’d have been in line to compete for a bullpen spot this spring. The A’s, after all, have plenty of other rotation candidates or locks (Frankie Montas, Sean Manaea, Mike Fiers, Jesus Luzardo, Chris Bassitt and A.J. Puk are among them). It’s now up in the air whether Mengden will throw another pitch as a member of the organization, considering he’s out of minor league options. But if he does go on the 60-day IL, Oakland will save a 40-man roster spot and put that decision on hold.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Nick Hundley Intends To Play In 2020]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=189421 2020-02-06T00:13:20Z 2020-02-06T00:13:20Z Veteran catcher Nick Hundley turned 36 late in the 2019 season, but he’s not yet planning to call it a career. Hundley tells Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle that he’s spoken to a few teams this winter — presumably about minor league deals with non-roster invites to Spring Training (Twitter link).

    Hundley’s 2019 season wasn’t exactly the finest of his 12-year career. The veteran backstop appeared in just 31 games with the Athletics, spent more than a month on the injured list with back spasms and was released by both the A’s and the Phillies. Notably for A’s fans, Hundley tells Slusser that Oakland isn’t one of the teams to which he’s spoken.

    Last year’s poor showing notwithstanding, Hundley is only a season removed from hitting at a near-average clip with the Giants in 2018. That year saw him tally 305 plate appearances with a .241/.298/.408 slash (95 OPS+, 93 wRC+). Considering that the league-average catcher posted an 84 wRC+ in 2018, Hundley’s output was more than passable — particularly for a part-time/backup catcher. Overall, he’s a .247/.299/.405 lifetime hitter in the big leagues.

    Hundley has never been considered a defensive standout, but his career 26 percent caught-stealing rate is only a hair below the league average. And while he’s rarely graded well in terms of pitch framing, Hundley typically posts quality marks in terms of blocking pitches in the dirt, per Baseball Prospectus. At 36 years of age, there’s little reason to expect a marked uptick in his defensive skills, but he’s generally been a capable bat relative to his positional peers, and as a depth pickup on a minor league deal, Hundley would make sense for several organizations that are still rather thin on options behind the plate.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Latest On Boston’s Managerial Opening]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=189385 2020-02-05T05:26:11Z 2020-02-05T05:26:11Z The Red Sox don’t have a manager at the moment, but the person who lands the job will oversee a much different roster than the one previous skipper Alex Cora worked with in 2019. There’s no more Mookie Betts or David Price, both traded to the Dodgers on Tuesday. Nevertheless, the Red Sox have been working to find a replacement for Cora since his ouster a couple weeks ago.

    Athletics quality control coach Mark Kotsay is among those to interview for the position, but it doesn’t appear he’ll get it. Kotsay’s out of the running for the job, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Along with Kotsay and Diamondbacks bench coach Luis Urueta (previously reported), the Red Sox have discussed their managerial role with two in-house possibilities in third base coach Carlos Febles and bench coach Ron Roenicke, per Chris Cotillo of MassLive.com.

    The 43-year-old Febles, a former Royals second baseman, has been a coach with the Red Sox organization since 2007. The majority of his work has come at the minor league level, but he joined the MLB staff as a third base coach in advance of the 2018 season. Roenicke, meanwhile, has significant managerial experience under his belt at the sport’s highest level. Now 63, Roenicke oversaw the Brewers in parts of five seasons from 2011-15, during which they went 342-331 with one playoff appearance.

    There are “likely” more names on Boston’s radar, Cotillo writes, though it’s safe to say that individual will be inheriting a worse roster than the team had entering Tuesday. The Red Sox acquired a pair of quality building blocks in outfielder Alex Verdugo and hard-throwing right-hander Brusdar Graterol, but it’ll be hard to make up for the losses of Betts and Price in the near term.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Athletics To Sign Donnie Hart]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=189265 2020-02-04T19:03:27Z 2020-02-04T19:00:02Z The Athletics have a minor-league deal with lefty Donnie Hart, per MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand (Twitter link). It includes an invitation to the MLB side of camp.

    Hart, 29, has bounced around the league a bit since wrapping up a three-year stint with the Orioles. He has 89 innings of 3.13 ERA ball under his belt in the majors, but clubs obviously aren’t believers in his ability to sustain that kind of productivity.

    Though he has never been much of a strikeout pitcher, Hart has drawn a healthy number of groundballs (54.1%) in the big leagues and upper minors alike. The soft-tossing southpaw also has traditionally avoided too much damage at the hands of home runs, which is a nice feature in this era.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Athletics Sign Shohei Tomioka To Minors Deal]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=188877 2020-01-31T03:40:14Z 2020-01-31T03:40:14Z
  • The Athletics announced the signing of right-hander Shohei Tomioka to a minor league pact earlier this week. The agreement doesn’t include an invitation to major league spring training, per John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. The 23-year-old Tomioka is coming over from Japan, where he pitched with an independent-level team – not in the country’s top league, Nippon Professional Baseball. He owns a four-pitch repertoire and can hit 92-95 mph with his fastball, according to Shea.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Athletics Sign Ryan Court To Minors Deal]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=188631 2020-01-29T05:59:26Z 2020-01-29T05:59:26Z
  • The Athletics have signed utilityman Ryan Court to a minor league contract, Alex Coffey of The Athletic tweets. A 23rd-round pick of the Diamondbacks in 2011, the 31-year-old Court made his MLB debut with one of the A’s division rivals, the Mariners, last season. Court had difficulty over that 44-plate appearance showing, hitting .208/.240/.375 with 11 strikeouts. On the other hand, Court owns a much more productive .262/.355/.423 line in 1,187 PA at the Triple-A level, where he has seen action with the M’s, Red Sox and Cubs organizations dating back to 2016.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Red Sox Reportedly Interested In Mark Kotsay]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=188625 2020-01-29T03:20:30Z 2020-01-29T03:20:10Z Already a candidate for the Astros’ managerial vacancy – a position that might not go unfilled for much longer – Athletics quality control coach Mark Kotsay could also be on Boston’s radar. He’s “believed” to be in the running to replace ousted Red Sox manager Alex Cora, according to Chris Cotillo of MassLive.com. However, it’s unclear whether the Red Sox have interviewed Kotsay yet, Cotillo adds.

    There doesn’t appear to be a clear front-runner yet to succeed Cora, one of three managers who lost his job this month as a result of the Astros’ 2017 sign-stealing scandal. For his part, Kotsay has never managed before, but the 44-year-old former outfielder and ex-member of the Red Sox has garnered front office and coaching experience since his playing days ended in 2013. And he has been a popular managerial candidate over the past several months, having drawn serious interest from the Giants and Pirates before they went in other directions back in the fall.

    Once San Francisco and Pittsburgh chose their next managers, it looked as if Kotsay would have to wait at least another year to become a big league skipper. However, with Houston’s transgressions having shaken up the managerial ranks this month, Kotsay has re-emerged on the radar.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Athletics Optimistic About Stadium Project]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=188393 2020-01-27T12:41:15Z 2020-01-27T12:41:15Z The Athletics are expressing quite a lot of optimism regarding the team’s longstanding efforts to secure a new ballpark. President Dave Kaval says that he anticipates final approval to proceed with construction this summer, as Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets.

    Over the years, the twists and turns in the stadium-building process have been many. So much so that it’s tough to presume that new obstacles won’t arise. Kaval is obviously well aware of the past history, which makes his seemingly unfettered anticipation all the more noteworthy.

    The Athletics president says that it’s time to “get the shovels ready.” But the precise timeline isn’t yet clear. It seems that the hope is for a final go-ahead to be secured within the next six months. Where things go from there remain to be seen.

    For reference, the Rangers are set to open their new facility this year after announcing (already largely finalized) plans in May of 2016. The Braves’ clandestine stadium deal was announced in November of 2013, with ground breaking less than a year later and the park coming online for the 2017 campaign.

    The Athletics’ new ballpark will be situated on the waterfront in Oakland’s Howard Terminal. But the complex arrangement also involves a redevelopment of the existing Coliseum site. Major roadblocks involving the land deal had arisen, but were sorted out late last year.